The latest exhibit at the M.V. Playhouse’s ArtSpace features the work of Sarah Moore and is titled “Simply Bold.” The name references the inclusion of both large abstract works in vivid colors as well as the small pen and ink drawings depicting Moore’s interest in tools and other ordinary objects portrayed in a minimalist style.
“I wanted to exhibit a range of what I do,” says the artist. “The large abstract pieces are colorful, explosive, and bold. The fine pen and ink drawings are really simple.”
Moore, who enjoyed a long and successful career in early childhood education before semi-retiring a decade ago, relates her varied interests to her own childhood. The large abstract paintings, though seemingly purely decorative, actually represent some pretty complex ideas. For example, the title of the painting “Sea Elegans” riffs on the term C. elegans, a common shortening of the Latin name for a microscopic organism.
“I grew up in a household that was very scientifically oriented and very practical,” says Moore. “I’m probably driven and inspired by my mechanical engineer father and my New England Puritan–heritaged mother. My father had a huge influence on my art, as he would talk about serious topics with me and my brothers. A lot of my paintings reflect ideas on the cellular or universal level — the explosiveness of the Big Bang or the molecular structure of water.
“My father would help me to see the world in a very different way that informed my ideas of things. At the same time, my art is really not that complicated. I put color and form on the canvas as I see fit, and the work becomes what it is. I have a vision of what I want to convey as I begin, but that can change as each element is included during the process. I love bright color, organic shapes, and layers of hues.”
Similarly, the artist’s pen-and-ink drawings reflect her upbringing. “I used to help my father build and fix things when I was growing up,” recalls Moore. “He taught me how to operate a chainsaw when I was 12. I could build a box with real hammer and nails when I was 6. Both my parents instilled in us the beauty and honesty of simplicity. I love these tool drawing — simple, honest. They have integrity.”
Moore’s chosen profession has proved to be another big influence on her work. She earned a degree in early childhood education (with a minor in art) from Wheelock College in Boston, and went on to a successful career in her field, eventually working as head of a lower school in Albany, N.Y.. “When I taught, I incorporated a lot of art in my curriculum,” says Moore. “In my position as head of a school, I encouraged teachers to have a multidimensional approach, incorporating art and music and other disciplines in their teaching.”
She has maintained an interest in using art in experimental ways. “I’ve always loved children’s art,” she says, “the purity and the free exploration that children go through when they’re learning about materials and process.”
In her abstract work, one sees a freedom and a sense of playfulness, along with a professional’s eye for color, form, and composition. Recently Moore has been experimenting with collage work, incorporating torn or cut tissue paper into her colorful creations. Many of the pieces on display at the Playhouse combine media.
Since moving to the Vineyard in 2005, Moore has taken on a number of initiatives related to her work experience. Recently she was asked to help expand and develop the children’s art programming at Featherstone, and she serves on a committee working toward establishing a year-round outdoor nature-based preschool at Felix Neck. Moore is also a board member of the Chilmark preschool, and she volunteers at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.
“I truly believe in giving back to the community,” Moore says, “and my love for children and my career in early childhood education leads me to working toward those efforts on the Island in the small ways that I can.”